Spotlight On…Van Williams (Spotlight On…Volume Seven)

For the latest instalment of my Spotlight On… series I will be looking at the different roles that Van Williams has had in terms of Green Hornet 66 and Batman 66 and related projects. I will not be including purely documentary releases, although some of those can be found in my Batman 66 visual media blog post

President Lyndon B Johnson

Batman: The Movie (30th July 1966)

President Lyndon B Johnson was the current president during the entire 3 Seasons of Batman, and for that matter, the entirety of the Green Hornet. This role is seen only from behind his chair and we see a portion of his body as he strokes his dog and uses the telephone but we see no distinguishing features. Van Williams goes uncredited for this role and provides the voice. It is his first role in the Batman 66 and Green Hornet 66 world (Earth 66 to use the Arrowverse designation). President Johnson corresponds almost entirely with Commissioner Gordon as the Commissioner, holding both the red Batphone and an ordinary black phone in his hands, serves as a middle man between Batman and the President.

The President asks Commissioner Gordon how they (Batman and Robin) are doing and tells the commissioner that he salutes the dynamic duo and wishes them luck. Later in the scene the commissioner informs the president “They are ready to rehydrate”, and then once they are successful “Success, Success, They’ve Done It, They’ve Done It”. The president informs the people when “they are ready to rehydrate”. Interestingly the President states “we’ve done it” rather than “they’ve done it” when informing the American people of Batman and Robin’s success, taking/giving a sort of collective credit for Batman and Robin’s work.

Green Hornet/Britt Reid

Green Hornet (26 Episodes) (9th September 1966- 17th March 1967)

Green Hornet (October 1974) (Amalgamated from Episode 10: The Preying Mantis, Episode 11: The Hunters and the Hunted, Episodes 25 & 26: Invasion from Outer Space Parts 1 & 2 and clips from various other episodes)

Fury of the Dragon (1976) (Amalgamated from Episode 22: Trouble for Prince Charming, Episode 13: Secret of the Sally Bell, Episode 9: The Ray Is for Killing, Episode 21: Bad Bet on a 459-Silent and clips from various other episodes)

Van Williams played one character in a literal sense on The Green Hornet. However one could argue his character goes beyond duplicity. Like many believable characters and indeed like many human beings in real life, there are many layers to Britt Reid. Britt has to be conscientious and stand up for what’s right, but also be deceitful. Even the Green Hornet isn’t one thing to all people, The Green Hornet has to appear villain whilst actually being a hero. Britt Reid has to appear as many things to many people, keep them all straight and being consistent with them all.

Batman Season 2 Episode 7: The Spell of Tut (28th September 1966) (Airing after Green Hornet Episode 3) Window Cameo

This window cameo, whilst fun stands out as a bit odd as Batman and Robin know of the Green Hornet and Kato’s (Bruce Lee) true allegiances as crime fighters despite no one else doing so, and despite appearing later in the crossover episodes with Batman and Robin being none the wiser.

I have previously looked at this window cameo in my Window cameo rankings and my Batman 66 Connected Universe blog post

Batman Season 2 Episode 51: A Piece of the Action & Batman Season 2 Episode 52: Batman’s Satisfaction (1st & 2nd March 1967) (After Green Hornet Episode 23)

Interestingly on original airing of this crossover there would have been three instalments of Green Hornet, in a sense that week, as the crossovers aired on the Wednesday and Thursday nights with the regularly scheduled 24th episode of Green Hornet (“Hornet Save Thyself”) airing on the Friday (3rd March 1967) Not too shabby for a show that aired once a week traditionally! In these episodes we see a shared history between Bruce Wayne and Britt Reid and a sense of friendly competitiveness between them with their fawning for Ms. Pinky Pinkston and their veiled jabs at each others’ secret identities, despite not knowing each others’ identities but obviously knowing their own.

I have previously looked at the crossover episodes in my Batman 66 Connected Universe blog post

Himself, as The Green Hornet

The Milton Berle Show: Episode 2 (1966-1967 version) (16th September 1966) (aired after Green Hornet episode 2 (same night))

In this sketch which mostly focuses on Milton Berle portraying a fictitious actor stuck going back and forth between Batman and Green Hornet sets and getting pummelled for fight scenes, we see Van Williams in his Green Hornet garb whilst playing himself behind the scenes and filming scenes.

Interestingly this episode of The Milton Berle Show aired after only 2 episodes of Green Hornet had aired so was, much like the window cameo on Batman, which aired after the 3rd Green Hornet episode, some promotion early on to get people’s eyes on the product it would seem!

I have previously looked at this comedy sketch in my Spotlight On…Milton Berle blog post

Combining the TV series, the Batman appearances and The Milton Berle Show, Van Williams played the Green Hornet across 30 episodes of television, making him to this day the most prolific live action Green Hornet!

Himself

Batman TV Series Episodic Intros (1989)

Featured on the Batman: Holy Batmania (2000) DVD

[Listed on the DVD inlay as Bat-Marathon: Episodic Intros, but on the actual DVD menu listed as

Batmania Wrap Arounds: Episodic Intros]

These were used when the series was syndicated in 1989 because of the release of Tim Burton’s 1989 movie, “Batman”.

3 of these featured Van Williams listed on the DVD as

Cameos”

Green Hornet”

Burt vs. Bruce Lee”

In “Cameos”, Adam and Burt recall some of the names of people who appeared in window cameos, whilst they are doing this Van Williams asks who they’re talking to and acknowledges the viewers.

In “Green Hornet” Adam and Burt introduce the crossover. Van Williams walks in and asks Adam the way to Gotham Square Garden. Burt is amazed by Van Williams showing up.

In “Burt vs. Bruce Lee”, Burt asks Van whether he would’ve preferred to work with him rather than Bruce Lee. Van lists the qualities needed for Kato. Burt states that “Green Hornet and Robin” has a nice ring to it!

Script/Premise

Tales of the Green Hornet (Volume 1) (1990) Issues 1 & 2

Tales of the Green Hornet was the name of 3 volumes of comics, altogether consisting of 9 issues. Volume 1 consisted of two issues. The premise of the story for these two issues, entitled “The Burma Horse” was written by Van Williams, the actual script for the issues was written by Bob Ingersoll. This comics’ continuity counts the TV series interpretation of the Green Hornet as Green Hornet II. It is Green Hornet II who is the lead character in the two issues of Volume 1. As such Van Williams is writing a story for the character he embodied on television.

Green Hornet Director

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)

In this biopic of Bruce Lee (played by Jason Scott Lee) there is a scene on the set of the Green Hornet TV series, although Forry Smith is playing Van Williams/Britt Reid/Green Hornet (Though credited simply as Green Hornet in the films closing credits) in this scene we also have Van Williams himself as the director of the scene. Though “Green Hornet Director” (as Van Williams is credited in the closing credits) understandably doesn’t have many lines it is a nice touch to have him overseeing the Green Hornet and being amazed by Bruce’s skills along with everyone else. Perhaps for the second time in his life?!

According to the clapperboard they’re filming an episode called “The Formula”. No such episode exists with this title in the TV series. No biopic is ever going to be 100% true to life, sometimes the changes can themselves be interesting tidbits.

Van Williams is also included amongst the list of individuals to whom the film-makers want to give thanks for their contribution.

Side Note

Green Hornet (14th January 2011)

Sort of a non-entry, but noteworthy nonetheless in my opinion;

In many remakes and/or reboots of older projects it is not uncommon for the stars of the original project, or an earlier version of said project at least, to appear in the new version in a cameo role.

On the subject of Van Williams appearing in Green Hornet (2011);

Seth Rogen (Co-Writer of the movie and Britt Reid/The Green Hornet in the movie), talking to New York Daily News said “We tried to get [Williams] involved in the movie in some capacity, to do a cameo or something, and we were never able to get him”.

In various obituaries of Van Williams (ranging throughout December 2016), his wife is quoted as saying “He wanted nothing to do with that movie”.

 

This week is Green Hornet Takeover Week;

Here on Batspray.blog, (Today’s Blog Post)

on the Batspray.blog Facebook Page (Daily Green Hornet Based Posts for the 1st-7th)

and for;

#batman66merchmonday on my Twitter on the 6th

#batman66merchmonday on my Instagram on the 6th

#batman66thespianthursday on my Twitter on the 2nd

#batman66thespianthursday on my Instagram on the 2nd

 

Sources

Film and TV

Batman (1966-1968)

Batman: The Movie (1966)

Batman: Holy Batmania (2000)

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

Fury of the Dragon

Green Hornet (1967-1968)

Green Hornet (1974)

Green Hornet (2011)

The Milton Berle Show (1966-1967)

Supergirl (2015-)

 

Websites

Hollywood Reporter

IMDb

MyComicShop.com

New York Daily News

 

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